Lovin' My Imperfect Soul
When we talk about empowerment, we are also talking about disempowerment. Freakmagz believes that disempowerment push us to always fight against inequality that attacks and weakens us as human beings. And often, the disempowerment nature comes from the outside, the external, the sphere and environment on the outer surface of our being. But, we seldom realize that it is also the devil that comes from the inside, the internal, the sphere and environment in the inner surface of our being. We ourself, as an individual is sometimes the perpetrator to devalue and question our self-worth. Perhaps due to patriarchal and historical encounter, or an internalized norm that haven’t brushed off.
Freakmagz learns a little bit more on this situation from Queentries Regar, she shared and explained her life experience in battling against this “internal devaluing self-worth” condition called: The Impostor Phenomenon.
I vividly remember that mid-day, I jumped out of excitement after my performance appraisal for I was just appointed by my manager to join her in representing my office for an important one-week global meeting in Africa. My 24-years-old self grinned widely, and internally screamed with pure joy and proudness “Africa! My dream! You’ve made it!”.
It was not long before my exhilaration transformed into a catastrophic fear. Smile turned into frown as anxiety attack hit me. A voice within my head repeatedly murmured “This is it! This is the time where people will finally find out that you are not as vibrant and smart as seen. You will be exposed as a failure! What can a stupid and inexperienced young participant like you contribute to an event full of experienced older professionals??”. The inner voice was so strong that it successfully diluted my concentration for the rest of the day. I started doubting myself. I started counting all my professional wrongdoings. I started thinking that my manager chose me out of pity not merit. And the worst of it all, I started justifying and validating the dangerous thought that I was indeed a fiasco. Every night I forced myself to study an impossible amount of matter for preparation before taking off to Africa. As a result, sleep inadequacy combined with constant fear became my normal. The thought of being found out as a failure filled my head with dread.
I was no stranger to self-devaluing and self-torturing. In fact, this was how I run most of my life. Every time I aced a test, won a championship or praised at work, my mind promptly responded that it was due to luck or sympathy. It seemed my mind ferociously stressed that neither intelligence nor diligence were factors to my accomplishment. That excellence at something was an impossible thing for me. Most of the time, I ended up over-studying or over-working as an attempt to compensate the gruesome feeling. But every time I gained positive results and felt delighted from them, worry followed. My mind didn’t allow me to be happy and I never deserved to taste the fruit of my hardwork. Self-contentment merely meant there was something wrong with the works I did.
One day I read an article about depression and found out that the haunting fear and anxiety I routinely experienced actually had a name: Impostor Phenomenon. It is a term coined in 1978 by psychology professors Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes who described it as “an internal feeling of phoniness among high achieving woman despite their outstanding academic and professional accomplishments” (in later stage, some researchers argued that this phenomenon also affects wide range of people not only women). Clance and Imes further explained that “women who experience the impostor phenomenon maintain a strong belief that they are not intelligent; in fact they are convinced that they have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise”. I took an online Impostor Phenomenon test and scored 91 out 100 scale! The higher the score means the more severe the Impostor Phenomenon occurs in one’s life. Those papers I read confirmed my suffering from Impostor Phenomenon.
My reluctance to speak this issue out to people exacerbated the condition. I had the strong principle to never let my internal insecurity, fear, anxiety be exposed to public or even to my closest friends. For they’re all shameful weaknesses in my eyes. Being an energetic extrovert I was, I rarely and if not, never showed any signs of fragility to outsiders. I was never ready to reveal this other side of me. I locked the story and bear the burden on the shoulder alone.
The revelation finally greeted me few months ago. I tasted a failure, something I considered, at that time, as the worst unfortunate event in my life. Pile of burdens consisted of severe self-questioning, plunging self-esteem, and fear of uncertainty weighed me. The load was excessive that I finally made the brave decision to seek external help. This was a rather uneasy step for me as I had to defy my old principle of secrecy. I invited my closest circle for lunches and revealed them this story. They later told me that this was a surprisingly shocking story, for I never showed them any indication of anxiety. I also spoke of this to someone I considered as coach and turned out she also suffered Impostor Phenomenon long time ago. My friends and coach offered instrumental advices, books, and articles that assisted me to the battle this phenomenon. It was relieving to know that I was surrounded by great supportive system.
I now had reconciled with myself. I had acknowledged and accepted my failures, insecurity, fear, worry, anxiety and doubt. I made the commitment to never devalue or question my self-worth because of those flaws anymore. My decision to battle the feelings and won over it have enabled me to discover a fresher and better pattern to run life. I am now learning to slow down a bit, not overly pushing myself, and always take a moment to taste the good of life. I focus in making myself freakily joyful instead of lamenting and worrying about my flaws. It took a long time and lengthy contemplation to finally see that I am worth and positively impactful despite all the failures, insecurity, and anxiety. I fall in love with my flawed self.
I learn the hard truth that strong people are not those who own zero fear but who acknowledge their flaws, have the audacity to seek help and at the end still fall in love with their imperfect soul no matter what.
Dear you, if you happen to read this and feel familiar with my story, remember you are not alone! Speak up. Don’t let your silence slowly kills you. Seek for external help(s). And re-fall in love with yourself.